Saturday, January 16, 2016

AND THEN CAME RUDGE...

Carey 'Loftin' the front wheel of his 1947 Velocette MSS in the hills of SoCal.
A friend sent this to me today; an episode of the classic 1969 motorcycle TV show 'Then Came Bronson', in which James Bronson (Michael Parks) meets Alex (Keenan Wynn) in Sturgis.  Alex has a 1937 Rudge Ulster hidden away in a friend's garage, and Bronson's presence reveals his secret, causing a bit of strife with his wife.  The episode has great riding scenes towards the end, with the men off-roading their respective machines (Rudge Ulster and Harley-Davidson Sportster) in the green grass of the Black Hills, including a flying leap over a creek.  Bronson learns a bit about the viability of vintage motorcycles in the process - undoubtedly you'll think the Ulster a far more suitable off-road machine than a '69 Sportster!  Keenan Wynn was well known for his motorcycle enthusiasm, but the stunts look to be performed by Carey Loftin , who had quite a career.

Carey Loftin is an AMA Hall of Fame inductee, and a legendary stuntman who taught himself trick riding skills as a very young man.  At 19 he was hired in Skip Fordyce's traveling stunt-riding show after performing a back flip from the saddle, landing behind the bike and controlling it with the seat, before hopping back on and coming to a halt.  Loftin earned his living via trick riding and mechanicking during the Depression, and after WW2 started work in Hollywood as a stuntman and character actor, with hundreds of film and TV credits over a 50-year career, riding motorcycles and driving cars, including hairy scenes in 'Bullitt', 'The French Connection', and 'Vanishing Point.'  Loftin died in 1997 at the ripe age of 83 - who says stunt riding leads to an early grave?
Carey Loftin and actor Rory Calhoun aboard his Triumph Thunderbird and Steib sidecar
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15 comments:

jerrykap said...

Fun to see this again on a boring Football Sunday...thanks

jerrykap said...

That was delicious...Best "Here Comes Bronson" ever. Despite the corn ball dialogue and occasionally wooden acting, I found it a sweet little time capsule. Great find thanks,Jer

John B said...

I believe the gent in the sidecar is actually actor Rory Calhoun, not Curtis...a couple other sites also say same. http://mycarquest.com/2013/04/carey-loftin-one-of-the-best-movie-stunt-drivers-liked-to-drive-fast.html

...But keep up the great work - love your blog and site.
John B in VA Beach

Dave Roper said...

Are you saying Carey Loftin did the stunt work for Keenan Wynn? Clearly 'Alex' was played by Wynn and one would have thought Wynn was capable of doing his own riding having competed in the Catalina GP.

The Vintagent said...

Looks like you're correct John B! Changed...

The Vintagent said...

Hi Dave,
'Alex' does look like Keenan Wynn, and at first I thought he was too, but the credits at the end say 'Carey Loftin'. Google the name, you'll see he's the guy and fits the bill.

Dave Roper said...

But, in the opening credits, it says Guest Star Keenan Wynn as Alex.

Rob De Witt said...

Regardless of what the credits say, that's Keenan Wynn. Keenan (He used to say "Mr. Wynn was my father.") was a biker and it wouldn't surprise me that he listed Loftin in the credits on a whim because he did the stunts.

Dave Roper said...

In the opening credits, at 0:57-1:00, it says "guest star Keenan Wynn as 'Alex'". In the closing credits it says Carey Loftin as Rancher.

The Vintagent said...

So, it looks like Loftin did the stunts, and Wynn did the acting. Perhaps just the big jump sequence over the creek?

Dave Roper said...

Or maybe Loftin did the stunts for Parks on the Sportster and Wynn did his own.

MECHANIC555 said...

Watched this 47 years ago and again today. Was my favorite TV show.I'm 69 and still dirt bike riding and Harley riding and BSA riding. Thanks

jerrykap said...

I knew you guys would sort it out for me. I was also perplexed by the Loftin /Wynn issue. Kudo's to all of them.

Tod Rafferty said...

Cool. Nice post, Paul. Was wondering about location until the last gas station scene: Jackson Hole. The Sportster jump was likely Bud Ekins, listed in credits as Action Coordinator. Ran into Parks in a bar 30-some years ago; that wasn't acting, he really was Bronson. He sang with the band, as he does at the end of this episode.

Anonymous said...

thanks for that.
by the way in the last riding scenes the shot of thigh on pillion was Bud riding shotgun and that's why you don't see a face.
( bit more interwebbly net larakins)

'59